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Lake life

Bears, cougars and hunter pink

Bears

Earlier this year, I had something chew up one of my bean bag gun shooting rests that I left sitting in the window of a ground blind. I found the remnants of it halfway between the stand and a food pile.

I wasn’t really sure what had chewed it up at first, but when I got to the pile of rice bran and corn, I noticed that something at least my size had bent over a two-inch sapling and left the top of the tree covering the feed pile. “This is mine,” it seemed to say.

That wasn’t a squirrel, I don’t believe. Other than a deer feeder being torn to pieces at the same location during the off-season, it was my first personal encounter with where a Union Parish bear had been. Let me make this perfectly clear. I don’t dislike bears. But I don’t like them being turned loose on every corner where  a creek runs through a pine thicket and there is no natural food supply or adequate cover. I’m afraid we are setting ourselves up for an alligator-type takeover of otherwise  normal outdoor habitat and populations. But I digress.

A couple of weeks later, I  was replenishing the feed supply at one of my stands where the animals only appear to eat at night. I finished, rode the four-wheeler to another stand and did the same thing, then returned down the road toward the first stand. I decided since it was just an hour before dark, I’d just slowly walk in about 100 yards and see if I could surprise something.

Something got surprised alright. Me. When I rounded the corner of my trail and looked up at the food store, there sat a big black bear, resting on his bee-hind enjoying my deer corn. He got up, stood up on his hind legs and looked at me a second, then lumbered off ( At this point in telling people my story, I’m usually asked if I thought the bear was scared since it might not have been as big as me. So don’t email me and ask, ok?).

I went on to the stand, but left a little before dark and made a lot of noise. Da Bear probably went on to the other feed pile. Either way, it was a harmless encounter that I later stepped off at 36 paces. I wonder if he woke up in the night in a cold sweat thinking about me like I did about him?

Cougars

 A confirmed cougar sighting in Morehouse Parish had folks talking a lot over the holidays. I’ve experienced the sound of what I thought was a cougar once before in the palmetto swamps on the north end of Wham Brake in Morehouse Parish. But I had no proof and was careful who I told the story to.

The Wildlife and Fisheries folks have oft denied the possibility of cougars in our area, probably because they honestly don’t think they are here. But it might also be so we will all keep buying hunting licenses. I can stand snakes and wasps and skunks and even bears, but the possibility of walking with cougars in the dark woods make me nervous. Does anybody know if cougars eat rice bran?

I do have one question, though. It is against the law to shoot a cougar in Louisiana.  If there aren’t any here, why is it against the law to shoot them? Isn’t that a lot like making it illegal to catch tuna in Lake D’Arbonne?

Anyway, I didn’t give it much thought, but then riding around in West Monroe during the holidays, I too, spotted a Cougar crouched in the short grass not far from the paper mill. It was pretty old and I don’t even think it could run.  But I, too, got a picture of it:

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-8-12-19-pm

Sorry, can’t a guy have a little fun? You young guys may have to ask somebody to explain.

Hunter Pink

This was a tough year in Louisiana in a lot of ways. But among all the really important issues going on this spring in Louisiana, our state elected officials found time to draft, discuss, pass and implement Act 7, allowing Louisiana hunters to swap “hunter orange” for “hunter pink” vests and hats. The law was signed by the Governor, but I bet he didn’t wear hunter pink if he went hunting.

I didn’t see ANYBODY wearing it all year. I didn’t even see any for sale in a sporting goods store. I think that’s a good thing. But others felt differently about the pink.

“We think it is a good thing. It is high vis(ibility). We think it is good for people to have choices,” said the official legislative spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries back this spring. I bet he didn’t wear it either.

What about the hi-viz chartreuse supporters? I bet they feel slighted. Choice? Here’s my choice: Don’t waste taxpayer dollars and legislators’ time.

 

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